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Challenge: Infertility

Infertility in a pandemic

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Infertility in a Pandemic, Wishing for a Baby during COVID-19

I didn’t know it would feel this way.

I didn’t realize how COVID-19 would change my plans. Would change my doctors office plans. Would change my feelings about my timeline. About my safety. About everything.

In March, I was preparing for testing, with the goal of a May FET. Then everything shut down. The doctors office closed. They stopped taking in any patients that weren’t already in active treatment. They apologized, and promptly told me they had no idea when I’d be able to reschedule.

This hurt my heart. Like really ached inside my chest.

Infertility is already unpredictable

Infertility comes with so much unpredictability to start. Now, you’re forced to add in these “wildly unprecedented” times, and you’re left with a literal shit storm of questions. Of unknowns. Of silence.

When and why and how and where become whether and if and what if and even oh no.

It’s exhausting and emotional and so much to process.

If you’re going through infertility, right now, today, in a pandemic, I see you. I hear you. I feel for you. I am you.

Infertility comes with so much to think about. So many feelings. So many emotions. So many logistics. And COVID-19 impacts every single one of those.

The deceivingly simple question of “When will my baseline start?” branches off into

    • “Will my baseline occur as previously scheduled?”
    • “Will I need to check in for my appointment from my car and wait for further instructions?”
    • “Will my partner be able to join me for this appointment, or will I need to be alone?”
    • “Is it safe for me to get bloodwork and an ultrasound while exposing myself to potential COVID-19 germs in the office?”
    • “I don’t want to wait any longer. But what is it going to be like to start a {potentially high risk} pregnancy during a pandemic?”
    • “How will I grieve failed treatments or treatment delays if I can’t get together with my people or do the things that make my heart feel cared for?”
    • “How will I celebrate successful treatment if I can’t get together with my people or do the things that make my heart feel cared for?”

It’s a lot, for anyone.

I’m writing this to tell you that you’re not alone. And to tell you that I’m standing beside you. I’m writing this to share with you the ways I’m handling all of the feelings (and logistics) of walking through infertility in a pandemic, in hopes that you can use some of these tips in your daily life. I’m writing too in hopes that you know there’s a safe space to share your fears and concerns, your hopes and your doubts, and that we’re experiencing these things all together. #InfertilityWarriors

Emotional Tornados

If you’re anything like me, it’s impossible to separate your desire to become a parent, to conceive and/or carry a child to be separated from literally anything else in your life. It’s not even feasible to put those feelings in a drawer, or to pretend that they’re not constantly on your mind. So, I’ve learned to embrace this. I am a parent in waiting. I’ve been a parent in waiting as long as I can remember. And that is part of my identity.

I work around and through this.

I try to keep it in check when I’m doing things non-baby or fertility treatment related. But I know that it is sometimes all encompassing. Friends, I’ve been working on learning to give myself grace. It’s hard to balance some really fierce wants with the slow (& often out of control) timeline of fertility treatments, processes and procedures, and the pathway to parenthood.

COVID-19 has compounded that. I struggle immensely to turn off my brain when I’m not specifically focused on a task. If I’m not thinking about my upcoming appointments or delayed cycles, I’m thinking about how this pandemic is impacting the world and the future and as I am sure you know, that branches into a thousand different directions.

Anxiety Management

This waiting, and thinking, and hoping, and fearing - it has my anxiety in spirals. This is something I noticed shortly after the pandemic really took hold of the US, and here are some things that I’ve been using to keep my anxiety as managed as possible:

  1. Calm app - I’m a little obsessed with listening to meditations. This app has some as short as 3 minutes or as long as 30 minutes, and whenever I need to reset, adjust my expectations, slow my heart rate and check in with myself this is my go to. Theres both a free version, and a more comprehensive paid option available.

  2. Sensory Support - for me, this includes using essential oils, soft blankets, a good desk chair, comfortable clothes, the right temperature on my thermostat (where are my 68 degree folks at?!) - and anything else else I can see, touch, smell, taste or feel to help me to stay calm. I am a firm believer in anything that you believe in helps!

  3. Talk Therapy - Whether this is a trained counselor (I find this incredibly beneficial), a family member or friend, talking through the things on your mind, especially the ones that you cannot control, can be extremely helpful. I talk to a therapist regularly, as well as with my partner, and my best friend.

Logistical Support

I’ve made sure to stay incredibly organized during this time. Because appointments, labs, treatments and other things are delayed or cancelled regularly right now, I find it so important to keep notes everywhere! I’m a huge fan of the notes app on my phone, but I also use post-it notes regularly and send myself emails at least a few times a week.

What’s in these messages, you ask? Great question!

I keep track of plans -

  • What is an upcoming appointment or meeting for?

  • What are my questions going into it?

  • What is the follow up that came out of my last appointment?

  • What do I need to do in the interim?

  • Do I need to make any calls? Or purchases?

  • Is there anything I need to track for my doctor, etc.

I also keep track of my feelings - especially highs and lows, as the pandemic has brought out quite a few of both, and I know that one day in the future, when I have my next little babe, I’ll want to share with them all of the heart poured into their creation.

If you’re struggling through infertility right now, today, what else has been on your mind. What else feels difficult to manage. How can I help?

I’m thinking of you.

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